Record Number of U.S. Weather Disasters Struck in 2020, Costing Billions
A person surveys the aftermath of Hurricane Sally on September 16, 2020 in Pensacola, Florida. Joe Raedle / Getty Images
A record-smashing 22 weather disasters inflicted at least $1billion of damage on the U.S. in 2020, according to NOAA, as the toll of human-caused climate change mounts in real time.
The 22 disasters blew away the previous record of 16, killed 262 people, and inflicted billion in damages in 2020, which European scientists say is tied for the hottest year on record.
Climate change, caused by burning fossil fuels, makes wildfires more extreme, hurricanes more intense and intensify more quickly, and extreme rainfall more severe as warmer air holds more moisture that can then be dumped in overwhelming volumes.
The fact that more people are living in areas vulnerable to climate disasters also contributed to the record number of billion-dollar events.
Weather disasters ravaged areas across the Lower 48 states, as wildfires incinerated more than 10 million acres across the West, thunderstorms deluged the Midwest, and hurricanes repeatedly pummeled the Gulf Coast.
For a deeper dive:
Disasters: CNN, Politico Pro, The Guardian, E&E, The Hill, Bloomberg; Hottest year: Axios, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Earther; Both: CNN, Washington Post, Buzzfeed; Climate Signals background: 2020 Western wildfire season, 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, Extreme precipitation